Sunday, November 29, 2009

The croissants that made me go wow......

The whispers of a not so little bird told me that Mirabelle Patisserie (27 Mackenzie Road, tel : +65 6238 6235) had really good croissants and since it was located at an old haunt of mine, I decided to take a look. So it really took me three Saturdays of attempts before I managed to get my hands on the ham and cheese croissant. I tried thrice because I had managed by chance to get the regular ones on the first attempt and they were really good.

Croissants are available really easily here. Getting them to be nicely crispy on the shell and buttery with enough grease for the soft insides without being overly heavy or soggy was another matter entirely and these ones from Mirabelle were just that. And as mentioned by the not so little bird, the ham and cheese version was really excellent value for the quality of ham and cheese that was used. The picture as usual, does no justice to the taste of the pastry.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A breakfast uncommon......

Well, at least for me it is not the usual thing when I grab breakfast since all that grease and fat is really quite heavy even for the morning. Left me with a garlic breath for some time throughout the day. Roast chicken rice with roast pork would presumably be something that sounds like lunch or dinner for the most of us. This is one of the random stalls which featured the Channel U logos. I've never put much stock into those endorsements, but this one was pretty decent.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Itacho Sushi, ION Orchard

I've been hearing quite a bit about Itacho Sushi (2 Orchard Turn, #B2-18 ION Orchard, tel : +65 6509 8911), which actually originates from Hong Kong, from various people and decided to come try the food. I'm getting some mixed feelings about the place because it's one of those establishments that are not quite there, but it's not another place neither. What it is essentially is a sort of family restaurant styled place that does Japanese food a noticeable notch up from the ubiquitous chain restaurant places that one is used to seeing around, but doesn't match the quality at more upmarket restaurants that serve in better quality and quantity. The prices here are likewise, somewhere in between, which means that things can get a little pricey, depending on what you order.

Noteables include the uni gunkans which were actually rather decent, but I thought didn't match the value for the buck in comparison with Botan which costs the same. The anago on the sushi looked pretty impressive for a large but thin slice and the toro sashimi was really quite decent. The latter wasn't really so much more affordable since the the individual pieces were quite small, but the quality of the belly was surprisingly no bad at all.

The aburied items were a teaser as they lacked a fuller bodied scorch aroma. Didn't quite agree with the fish liver items which were something I wouldn't order again if I had to come back since they were in so tiny pieces that it could barely be tasted. The niku udon was a little nasty featuring not so thinly sliced meat that was overcooked to death. Udon wasn't as springy and had a mild starchy film. Definitely to be avoided.

Service was also spotty as the waitresses barely understood English nor knew the Japanese names of the items on menu. There's a little bit of strange irony here since I'm also someone who isn't conversant in Japanese at all and I couldn't clarify if those items listed as dorsal fin sushis were engawa. They didn't seem to understand the word flounder neither and it took a while before someone could come up to clarify the items they had on menu which were really just English descriptions.

I suppose Itacho, being as it is would be a good place for people who're beginners to sushi/sashimi since those items were really much closer to the authentic variety than the other generic Japanese themed restaurants.

hotate sashimi

seared salmon with dill mayo?

some rolls with fish liver

the uni war ships

aburied hotate with fish liver

aburied wagyu, toro and engawa

anago sushi

pumpkin tempura

toro sashimi

niku udon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tonkichi, Ngee Ann CIty

One of the things that I liked about Tonkichi (391 Orchard Road, #04-24 Ngee Ann City, tel : +65 6735 7522) from the first time I ate quite a number of years back was the free flow of shredded cabbage and rice. It seems that the cabbage dressing now comes with seaweed which adds another depth of fragrance, albeit seaweed-y, to the already delicious sauce.

There seems to be some promotional kurobuta items on the menu and I had thought that the minced cutlets with cheese looked appealing. On introspect, it wasn't too bad with a fairly generous amount of gooey mozzarella in the meat; it was also something that I probably wouldn't be ordering again.

The braised pork option on the side was actually not too bad as well. What you get is a greasy medley of umami, sweetness and savory packed into a chunk of soft fatty meat. While there are probably better ones of these braised pork bellies around, I've to say that the ones here are pretty tasty.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Prawn noodles from Hiap Chiang Eating House

I had stumbed upon this little gem (Hiap Chiang Eating House, 215 Selegie Road, S188337) by chance in a really old school coffeeshop down at Selegie. This was just almost next door to Ananda Bhavan. A couple of notes grabbed my attention as I walked by; one being a bowl of that steaming prawn noodles on some else's table and the other, the fact that this place only has a single stall that serves only that.

In the shady refuge of this nondescript space in time of an old shophouse, I found myself a really heart warming bowl of prawn noodles. In a broth that was really moderated with the prawn flavor accented with pork lard (yum!) and fried shallots. And in them, sliced pork, halved prawns and smooth kuey teow. The flavors of the soup wasn't overwhelming rich, but it was definitely good in the sense that it was fragrant without being overbearing. In the timeless words of a certain governor, I'll be back.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Osvaldo Ristorante Italiano, Maxwell Road

So this is the current place (32 Maxwell Road, #01-03 Maxwell Chambers, tel : +65 6224 0978) which Osvaldo Forlino, formerly from the restaurant Forlino, has set up. Word around is that this was the opportunity for his family to create the restaurant which they've been wanting to creating dishes that have been rooted in their tradition. Word also was that, the fare that people could expect leans towards being homely and definitely nothing of the fancy schmancy stuff that is generally expected from upmarket restaurants.

That aside, the place reminds me of PS Cafe. Not exactly the kind of homely place that I had envisioned. And service, apart from a couple of noted wait staff, was honestly mediocre. Nothing of the warm homely thingy that seems to be the catch phrase here.

Starters was a plate, not so much of an actual platter, of their mixed home cured meats that included some salami, morta della, prosciutto and I think, San Daniele ham. This was actually pretty good stuff along with the generous portions of chewy in house bread that they made.

Here we have some spaghettini alla carbonara done with pork cheeks. I've been educated that this could have been Guanciale, a cured but unsmoked cheek portion of the pig. It wasn't half as salty as bacon and had more of that porky flavor as well. While it was the eggy and cheesy carbonara that it is, the pasta wasn't as dry as I was expecting. There was a pool of liquid at the bottom of the plate.

And then there was roasted rabbit with rosemary potatoes. I suppose homely meant simply done as well. It tastes pretty much as it looked like. Chicken.

Dessert was a non dairy based apple cake which was surprisingly good. Surprising for me because the dessert menu/trolly didn't quite look interesting and I was actually debating whether to even opt for dessert or not. The chunks of still semi crunch apples worked very well with that floury cake with bits of sugar. I'm not too sure if the last part was intended, but it was all lighter than it looked and went down pretty fast.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

An anago don from Kaiho Sushi

The follow up return to Kaiho Sushi landed myself the anago don which I spied on the lunch menu from the previous visit. And this is the first time I've noticed something like this available. To form, the less fatty sea eel had a more delicate texture. Something about that which I find quite enjoyable since the easily available fresh water counterparts normally aren't really good here. Didn't have much gripes about it except that I would have liked a little more grill in them. However, it wasn't truly remarkable as well. I've noticed that there always seems to be small slices of inari in the rice, as does the chirashi. And today, we got a lump of wasabi that was actually formed from half grated variety and the other half from the paste.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A chirashi from Kaiho Sushi

So I've heard about Kaiho Sushi (5 Koek Road, #03-01/02 Cuppage Plaza, tel : +65 6738 1315) for a while now and have been meaning to come check the place out. This little restaurant located in the little Japanese hub around the Cuppage area is run by an affable Bernard Tang who is the man with the knives behind the counter. Here's a chirashi from the lunch set that comes pretty packed with a selection of sliced raw goodies over the top. Here we have some toro, bonito, ama ebi a small blob of uni, some small slices of sake, some white fish which I couldnt really identify, and another silver skinned fish which I couldn't tell and a couple of slices of chilled tamago.... all resting above a dusting of the sweet pink fish floss over the rice.

One week later...

A second visit exactly one week later saw some differences in the offerings of the chirashi bento. Noticeably this time round, there was no more ama ebi and bonito but the lunch box got a little more uni, a fresh addition of ikura and hamachi.

While it didn't quite feel as laden as the offerings from Sushi Yoshida, this was really quite a compelling alternative as it comparatively didn't cost as much too.

Friday, November 06, 2009

From dandelions...

This is my first visit actually to the current location of Tampopo (177 River Valley Road, #01-23/24 Liang Court Shopping Centre, tel : +65 6338 3186). It was previously located at the basement in Liang Court. If you didn't know already, this family restaurant is widely patronized for their fried kurobuta pork cutlets which I personally feel are decent, but are overrated. I'm also generally not inclined towards breaded and deep fried stuff. This visit was not an exception.

One of the things that caught my attention was a maguro head don that they had on the special menu. It's suppose to be on a limited serving per day probably on the basis that there's only so much meat in the head of a tuna as compared to the other portions. This is suppose to make them available in limited quantities. Duh! Sounds like a Santouka. I popped in for dinner and viola, it was actually not sold out yet. Maybe people generally don't think much about it or find it a little strange to order raw head meat from fish.

The slices of soy sauce marinated tuna turned out to be rather enjoyable (if not strange that it came with 2 pieces of sushi and a nice dollop of negitoro). The texture of the meat was expectedly so of tuna but it was noticeably softer. The only way I can think of describing it was that it reminded me of otoro without the fatty taste.

A serving of the pan fried pork livers with chives were definitely in order. I guess this is one of those Japanese cooked dishes that bears so much similarity to Chinese food and the simplicity of it made it something that's tough to go wrong. A soy base savory goodness coupled with the crunch of bean sprouts and leeks with the livers. Unsophisticatedly, if there's such a word, good.

I had to satiate a small craving for ramen because of the misfortune of having one recently that I didn't really enjoy. The basic kyushu ramen with the ever enjoyable richer tonkotsu broth that had much more of a bodyful flavor than scorched sesame ones did the job. I also very much prefer the firm straight noodles in these variety than the other. What I wonder about kyushu ramen is, how much mentaiko is there suppose to be to flavor the broth?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Kuro ma-yu ramen from Menya Shinchan

This turned out a quite different from what I had in mind since the pork bone broth for the ramen featured scorched black sesame and I was assuming that it was toasted in some way in the process. To my dismay, the flavors were just of regular sesame and apart from being rather oily, the broth tasted a little bland as well. I guess this was just not my type of soup base.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Hatched, Evans Lodge

So this is a relatively new establishment that serves almost everything with eggs, hence the name Hatched (26 Evans Road, #01-06 Evans Lodge, tel : +65 6735 0012). Most of the dishes look like something which one can want for breakfast which is a really good idea to capitalise on since breakfast menu items are traditionally available till the early afternoons and this breaks that circle of practice and probably makes many people happy to have the options that they offer.

I must have been lucky to have gotten a table without reservations on a weekend since the word around is that they place seems to be under spotlight.

Food on the whole was pretty decent. Since I like eggs, I'm bent towards being more forgiving than usual and gripe on less things ... ... gripes like the foie gras from their Le Rossini being a little overcooked and not having a crispy enough exterior than how it should be properly done. Truffle oil on that was a nice touch. And the Burly Benedict (nothing burly about them here) that arrived with a bland tasting corned beef that I didn't quite expect since I was picturing the salted and hashed variety. Still it was all good. And ...... cappucino needs a lot more body with the foam.

There seems to be little or no salt on their food and I believe it's a practice by the kitchen than anything else. I think. For the beer people, there's a variety of bottled stuff that includes Trappist brews and the small selection was really nicely thought out.

Location within Evans Lodge is definitely a charm though.